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Institute of Commonwealth Studies relaunches with bold vision for global impact

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Siobhan Pipa

Institute of Commonwealth Studies relaunches with new vision to tackle global challenges facing the modern Commonwealth and the world.

Fifteen new projects that will strengthen the rule of law, combat climate change and promote freedom of expression and digital rights will form the focus for the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICwS), its new director has said.

The key themes, along with the importance of education across the Commonwealth, were outlined at a reception on 25 April to mark the Institute’s 75th anniversary. The event, also attended by the University’s Chancellor, HRH The Princess Royal, marked the official relaunch of the Institute, with a new vision to tackle global challenges facing the modern Commonwealth and the world.

Professor Kingsley Abbott, Director of the ICwS, outlined an ambitious agenda focused on these three key areas, which he said are vital to ensuring the Institute continues its legacy of positively impacting lives across the Commonwealth. 

Speaking at the reception, Professor Abbott said: "Central to our vision is the belief that knowledge alone is not enough; it must be translated into action that delivers meaningful change. Under each of these headings we now have approximately 15 projects underway or in development across the Institute."

The ICwS aims for people around the world, including throughout the modern Commonwealth, to live in societies grounded in democracy, human rights and the rule of law. To work towards that vision, it will develop effective, evidence-based policy solutions to challenges facing the Commonwealth, support its global civil society network, engage with stakeholders like member states and continue to offer ground-breaking MA and PhD programmes in Human Rights.

Professor Abbott highlighted several new initiatives for the ICwS, including developing a legal guide on decriminalising poverty with the International Commission of Jurists, working with the Institute of Philosophy on how emerging technologies impact international relations and a recent submission to the International Criminal Court on combating environmental crimes.

"As we embark on this new chapter, we recognise the importance of engaging with – and inspiring - the next generation of leaders and scholars," Professor Abbott said. "Many of these projects are being implemented with a new generation of cross-sector, early to mid-career fellows from around the world."

Dr Farah Faizal, former High Commissioner of Maldives, spoke about the synonymous links between the Commonwealth and education, as well as her own personal connection to the Institute whilst a student. HRH The Princess Royal, in her role as Chancellor of the University of London, also spoke.

The reception featured displays curated by Senate House Library looking back at the institute's pioneering history and forward to its new direction. Founded in 1949 after World War II, the institute has long emphasised interdisciplinary study and collaboration.

"Being forward-looking and innovative is part of the institute's DNA," Professor Abbott said. "We can look back with pride at all that has been accomplished – and look forward with determination to the journey ahead."